While HSBC’s Canary Wharf masters are back-peddling furiously over charges that they gave a leg up to terrorist financiers and drug traffickers as a recent U.S. Senate report charged, new evidence emerged that its business as usual for the multinational banking giant founded by Hong Kong-based British opium merchants.
Earlier this month, The Independent reported that French police had “intercepted one of the dozens of ‘go-fast’ cars which transport cannabis at high speed from Spain to Paris. The seizure–banal in itself–unravelled an extraordinary network of drug-trafficking, money-laundering, fraud and tax evasion which sprawled over the invisible barrier which separates Paris from the city’s poor, multiracial suburbs.”
The bank embroiled in this latest scandal? Why HSBC, of course!
According to reporter John Lichfield, “bank notes handed by clients to street drug dealers in the suburbs were ending up, French and Swiss investigators discovered, in the safes of seemingly law-abiding, well-heeled citizens in the French capital.”
But that’s not the only place where crisp bundles of cash were turning up.
“A trio of Moroccan brothers, including a prominent fund manager in Geneva, are alleged to have concocted an elaborate scheme to launder money by balancing two illegal flows of cash,” The Independent averred.
At the center of this multimillion euro money laundering spider’s web were: Meyer El-Maleh, the managing director of the fund management firm GPF SA, and brothers Mardoché El-Maleh, the alleged bagman of the cannabis-for-cash scheme and Nessim El-Maleh, a fund management specialist with the Swiss private banking arm of HSBC, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) S.A.
The Independent reported that the trio “are suspected of handling up to €12m (£9.6m) in cash in the past seven months (and far more over the past four years). Assets seized by the police include €2m in cash, gold ingots, art treasures and guns.”
“The HSBC bank has confirmed that its employee was involved in the affair,” Swiss Info disclosed, “but says that it has been ‘cooperating actively with the authorities about this over the past few months’. The Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports that GPF SA is about to dismiss the other brother.”
Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have escaped!
Among the well-heeled perps arrested by authorities on charges of “conspiracy to launder money and association with criminals” was Florence Lamblin, a prominent Green Party politician and deputy mayor of the 13th arrondissement in Paris.
Her arrest was all the more ironic considering that fake “left” Greens are currently in coalition with François Hollande’s pro-austerity “Socialist” government. Lamblin and her coalition partners had run on a platform demanding tougher action against (wait for it) international money laundering!
When Lamblin’s home was raided “police discovered €400,000 (SFr484,000) in low-value notes” in safes belonging to the “progressive” politician, Swiss Info averred.
In the wake of her arrest, Lamblin was forced to resign although she denied “any involvement” in the drug smuggling scheme.
Her lawyer, Jérôme Boursican told AFP “she had held 350,000 euros from a family legacy in a Swiss account.”
“If anything, my client may be guilty of tax fraud, over the transfer back to France of a sum of €350,000 from a family inheritance which was placed in a Swiss bank account in 1920,” Boursican explained.
The attorney told France 24 that he would ask a judge “to dismiss the case against his client ‘as soon as possible’ and blamed her involvement on a ‘judicial error’.”
The “error” of getting caught perhaps?